Biggest Snowstorms In The United States From 1888 to Present

(Excluding Western U.S. storms along the Rocky Mountains and Intermountain West, and purely lake-effect snow events.)

1) "BLIZZARD OF 1888"

March 11-12, 1888

An unseasonable and devastating snowstorm struck from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. The cities of Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and New York City were paralyzed. This incredible "Nor'easter" dumped 50 inches of snow in Connecticut and Massachusetts while New Jersey and the state of New York had 40 inches. Drifts of 40 to 50 feet high buried houses and trains. From Chesapeake Bay to Nantucket, 200 ships were sunk with 400 lives lost.


November 11-12, 1940

Mild weather ahead of an intense low pressure system tracking from Kansas to western Wisconsin was quickly followed by a raging blizzard. Many people were caught off-guard by the severity of the storm and the plunging temperatures. Sixty degree temperatures during the morning on the 11th was followed by single digit readings by the morning of the 12th. These very cold temperatures and snow amounts were very unusual for this early in the season. Up to 26 inches of snow fell in Minnesota, while winds of 50 to 80 mph and heavy snows were common over parts of the states of Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. These winds were responsible for whipping up 20 foot drifts. A total of 144 deaths were blamed on the storm (13 in Wisconsin), most of which were duck hunters along the Mississippi River. Milwaukee received only a trace of snow, but 80 mph winds downed hundreds of trees.


March 10-14, 1951

A slow moving storm system brought a prolonged period of heavy snow to much of the Midwest. Hardest hit were Missouri and Iowa where snow fell

for as long as 92-100 hours! This slow moving storm system which had abundant moisture, produced 27.2 inches of snow at Iowa City which remains the largest snow storm accumulation in Iowa state history, with the bulk of the snowfall occurring on March 10


February 1-8, 1956

A series of disturbances brought a period of snow to the South Plains during the first week of February in 1956. The heaviest of snow was confined to Western portions of Texas and Oklahoma. Snow totals during this period were 14 inches in Amarillo, TX, 24 inches in Hereford, TX, and 43 inches in Vega, TX. Some areas saw continued accumulating snow for up to 92 hours. Travel came to a complete stop across this area. Hundreds of cattle died and feed for remaining cattle had to be airlifted in.


March 22-25, 1957

A strong area of low pressure developed along the lee of the Rocky Mountains in late March of 1957. This storm interacted with cold air in place across the Plains states to create a rare and devastating spring blizzard across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. A widespread 10-20 inches of snow fall across the area with reported snow drifts of 15 to 30 feet! Travel was impassible with many snowplows becoming stranded as well. Across the Panhandle region 20 percent of the cattle population was lost from this storm.


January 26-27, 1967

One of the biggest snowstorms on record to strike the Midwest occurred just two days after an extremely rare January tornado outbreak in nearly the same area (January 24). An intense "Panhandle hook" storm tracked

from New Mexico northeast up into the Ohio Valley. Central and northern Illinois, northern Indiana, southeast Iowa, Lower Michigan, Missouri and Kansas were hit hard by this blizzard. Kalamazoo, Michigan reported 28 inches of snow, Gary, Indiana 24 inches. Chicago recorded its all-time record snowfall with this storm of 23 inches. Winds of 50 mph created drifts to 15 feet! Seventy-six people died, most in the Chicago area. This blizzard still ranks as Chicago's heaviest snowfall in a 24-hour period. (Remarkably, Milwaukee measured only 6 inches of snow from this storm.)


December 25-28, 1969

A strong winter storm tracked up the East coast just after Christmas and then stalled out across the New England area. This resulted in heavy snow accumulations of 2-3 feet across much of upstate New York and up into Vermont with locally higher amounts. Just a few days earlier, a previous storm had brought around one foot of snow to the same area. Freezing rain mixed with snow towards the nation’s capital, creating a heavy wet snowfall that made for very difficult snow removal.

8) "THE 1975 MINNESOTA BLIZZARD" (Also named "Minnesota’s Storm of the Century")

January 9-12, 1975

This classic "panhandle hook" storm brought three days of rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain to the Upper Mississippi River valley. Snow totals were highest across Northern Minnesota, around 2 feet, where little to no rain fell. Duluth, Minnesota received 8 inches of a very heavy wet snow, while International Falls, Minnesota broke an all-time snowstorm record with 24.1 inches of snow. Very strong winds created snow drifts up to 20 feet with peak wind gusts to 80 mph.

9) "THE GREAT BLIZZARD OF 1978" (Also named the "Cleveland Superbomb")

January 25-27, 1978

A tremendous blizzard struck Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, western Pennsylvania and southeast Wisconsin. One to three feet of snow was common throughout this area with 50 to 70 mph winds whipping up 10 to 15 foot drifts. Ohio was hardest hit with 100 mph winds and 25 foot drifts!

Much of the affected area was paralyzed for several days. This very intense "Lower Mississippi Valley" type storm tracked from Mississippi to Lake Huron and rapidly deepened to 960 mb near Cleveland, Ohio. Over 70 deaths were blamed on this storm. Milwaukee measured nearly a foot of snow from this large and very intense storm system.

10) "BLIZZARD OF 1978"

February 5-7, 1978

Just about one week after "The Great Blizzard of 1978" across the Ohio River Valley region, another historic winter storm developed along the East coast. This Nor’easter intensified rapidly off the mid Atlantic coast, bringing strong winds and heavy snowfall. What made this storm so historic was its long duration snowfall due to a strong high pressure system over Eastern Canada that stalled the storm system off the New England coast. This also helped to set up an intense pressure gradient, creating hurricane force winds in some areas with gusts of 80-90 mph from Boston to Cape Cod. Snow totals across much of the Northeast were in the 1-3 foot range. Boston and Providence received their greatest snowstorm totals ever at 27.1 inches and 27.6 inches, respectively.


January 30-31, 1982

Although this storm was deemed a blizzard, the winds along the Mid- Mississippi River region were not terribly strong. But, this slow moving storm had a tremendous amount of moisture to work with, producing a swatch of 1-2 feet of snow from central Missouri through Southern Illinois. This was considered a one-in-70-year snow event across the Ozarks region. This storm caught many off guard which lead to as many as 4,000 motorists stranded on roadways across the area. This is considered to be one of St. Louis’s worst snowstorms ever with 15.5 inches of snow that shut down the city for several days.


March 3-4, 1985

A strong storm system hooking across the central U.S. intensified further in early March of 1985, producing heavy snow and extremely high winds across West portions of the great lakes. Hardest hit was Northern portions

of Minnesota where around 1 foot of snow fell in a two day period. The twin cities saw 16.7 inches of snow while International falls only saw 7.6 inches. This intense storm system produced a wind gust to 71 mph at Duluth airport with gusts to 80-90 mph reported at a nearby lift bridge. This created snow drifts in the Duluth area in excess of 20 feet! Many cities across the region were isolated for up to 4 days.


October 31-November 3, 1991

This was an early season snowstorm that developed across the South plains along a strong cold front. The storm took a due North track along the Mississippi River while rapidly intensifying over Illinois, bringing with it plentiful Gulf moisture. This storm produced an area of 1-2 feet of snow across East Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin. A few areas saw around 3 feet of accumulation across extreme Northeast Minnesota. Duluth, Minnesota set an all record accumulation of 36.9 inches. Gusty winds persisting after the accumulating snow had ended, resulted in snow drifts of 5-10 feet.

14) "SUPERSTORM OF 1993" (Also dubbed the "Storm of the Century")

March 12-13, 1993

This extremely intense and massive storm tracked from the western Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Panhandle and up the eastern seaboard to Massachusetts (lowest pressure at one point was under 960 mb). Tremendous snow amounts covered a huge area, with many locations breaking snowfall records. Amounts ranged from a foot in southern Alabama to over 40 inches in the state of New York. In the mountains along the Tennessee / North Carolina border a whopping 60 inches fell! Winds of 70 mph were common across this large area with drifts to 20 feet high. Nearly 300 deaths were blamed on this storm.

15) "THE BLIZZARD OF 1996"

January 6-9, 1996

A classic major Northeast Snow storm that developed in the Gulf of Mexico tracked through the Southeast U.S. and intensified along the Mid Atlantic coast. This storm had plentiful moisture and cold air to work with across the East U.S. and the slow movement of this storm allowed for significant

snow accumulations. A widespread 2-3 feet of snow fell from the Mid Atlantic and into New England with localized 4 foot accumulations into the foot hills of West Virginia. The city of Philadelphia received 30.7 inches of snow, its greatest snowstorm total on record. Winds gusted to 40-60 mph, especially near Cape Cod, with 5-8 foot drifts across much of the area. 60 fatalities were reported during the storm. Just one week later, another storm passed through the same area bringing mainly rain along with very warm temps. This resulted in significant melting and flooding across the Northeast with many rivers reaching and exceeding flood stage.


February 15-17, 2003

A typical Lower Mississippi low pressure tracked into the Carolinas on February 15


December 22-23, 2004

A series of strong storm systems brought heavy two day snow totals to Southern portions of Indiana and Ohio, and even into Northern Kentucky. The first storm hooked out of the Texas panhandle into the region December 22

18) "BLIZZARD OF 2005"

January 20-24, 2005

What started out as a clipper system diving into the northern Plains, quickly turned into an unusual type of blizzard as it hit the Lower Great Lakes. The system tapped into Gulf of Mexico moisture as it propagated east southeast across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and southern Ohio. A weaker clipper system just to its north passed all of its energy to the developing storm to the south and subsequently bombed out as it hit the Atlantic. Although not a terribly deep storm, copious amounts of moisture streamed northward from the Gulf Stream and dumped record snowfall totals across southern New England. A large swath of heavy snow blanketed much of the Upper Midwest, northern Ohio Valley, and most of New England. Snowfall totals ranged from 5 to 13 inches across the Midwest (locally 15 to 16 inches near Lake Michigan) to 8 to locally 37 inches across southern New England. Areas around Boston reported snowfall rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour for a time. One nearby city recorded 7 inches of snow in 75 minutes!! Boston officially recorded 22.5 inches, which contributed largely to breaking an all time record for the amount of monthly snowfall (43.3 inches) for any month.

In addition to record snowfall, winds gusted in excess of 60 mph across portions of the Midwest and up to 85 mph across portions of southern New England. Widespread white-out conditions resulted, and entire cities were shut down in the northeast. Portions of Massachusetts reported 6 foot snow drifts.


March 13-14, 2006

A springtime storm system brought a surge of moist air from the gulf that interacted with just cold air across the West Great Lakes to bring significant heavy, wet snow accumulations. The heaviest snow accumulations were oriented from northwest Wisconsin and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where around 2 feet of snow fell. Giles, WI received 32 inches with gusty winds creating even higher drifts across the area.


April 5-7, 2008

A late season snow storm developed in the Northern Plains along a stationary front in April of 2008. Heavy rainfall occurred across much of Minnesota and Wisconsin. But enough cold air allowed for all snow across East South Dakota and North Minnesota where a swath of 1-2 feet of snow occurred. A locally heavier band of snow set up from Ely to Grand Rapids Minnesota where 24-32 inches of snow fell. Gusty winds produced even higher drifts and stands as one of the most significant late spring snow storms across the U.S.


December 25-28, 2010

This initial gulf state low brought up to half of a foot of snow accumulation across portions of the Dixie Valley before it rapidly intensified off the East coast as a Nor’easter. The storm deepened to around 961 mb just off of Cape Cod on the 27


January 10-13, 2011

This Gulf Coast storm interacted with a very cold air mass that was situated all the way into the Gulf Coastal region. This rare set up resulted in a large swath of nearly 1-foot snow accumulations from Northern Texas through the Gulf States, including portions Arkansas and Tennessee. Interior portions of the Carolinas into the Appalachian Mountains received 1-2 feet of snow. Some sleet and freezing rain also mixed in across these areas to create significant travel and power outage issues. The storm hooked up the East coast where it intensified, bringing a general 1-3 feet of snow along the Eastern seaboard. Although minor snow accumulations in the Southeast U.S. during the winter months are not unexpected, the areal

coverage and magnitude of snow accumulations made this a historic storm.


February 1-2, 2011

This significant winter storm took a nearly direct North track out of Texas, bringing plentiful gulf moisture with it into the western Great Lakes. A strong area of high pressure and cold air mass was already in place across the Midwest. This helped to support widespread snow totals of 1-2 feet across Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois as well as create an intense pressure gradient across the area. Winds gusted to 55-70 mph along the Western shores of Lake Michigan. This created significant blowing and drifting snow and also enhanced snow across the Milwaukee and Chicago metro areas with numerous reports of thunder snow. A weaker storm system had brought up to 6 inches of snow across the same area just a day prior, bringing 3-day snow totals around 2 feet on up to 32.8 inches at Pella Lake, WI. The strong winds resulted in snow drifts of 4-10 feet, shutting down many area highways with numerous stranded motorists that had to be rescued by snowmobiles. Parts of Interstate-94 and I-43 were closed during the storm.

th and 11th. Many areas across North Missouri and South Iowa saw 1-2 feet of snow. Although winds were not strong enough to produce widespread blizzard conditions, many cities were declared state of emergencies with transportation across the area stopped for several days after the storm. On top of snow accumulations, significant icing from freezing rain also occurred over Southwestern Iowa before seeing additional heavy snowfall accumulations. th, and tracked along the East coast through the 17th. An area of high pressure allowed for plenty of cold air in place across the Northeast with snow and sleet accumulation of half a foot into portions of the Carolinas. Snow totals were highest across the Mid Atlantic Coast and into the New England region with snow totals generally of 1-2 feet. Record snow totals were recorded in Boston and Baltimore, with 27.5 inches and 28.2 inches, respectively. Winds were not particularly strong with this storm on a widespread scale, although gusts to 55 mph were reported along Cape Cod. Many highways were impassable for a couple of days with many secondary roads remaining impassable for up to a week along the Eastern seaboard. nd bringing a foot of snow, mainly across Southern Indiana. A secondary storm quickly followed and tracked through the same region bringing an additional 6-12 inches to the same area. 1-2 feet of snow fell in two days over Southern Indiana and Ohio with locally higher amounts. Seymour, IN reported 29 inches in just two days. Portions of Interstates 64, 65, and 74 were shut down with many stranded motorists. Several Blackhawk helicopters and numerous military humvees were brought in to locate and rescue the stranded. th bringing strong winds gusting to 50-70 mph. These winds coupled with total snow accumulations of generally 1-2 feet along the East coast, with up to 3 feet in areas created blizzard conditions. Atlantic City broke an all time storm accumulation with 20.1 inches. Strong winds continued into the 28th creating continued blowing and drifting snow and resulted in significant travel backups along the East coast during the Holiday travel time period. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.